8. Mirror of the two sacred places (Mirāt al-haramain)


1925 CE (date of first publication)
1344 AH
Found in old Meccan family home, 2015

Oh Mecca, most beloved of places! Your tales have been told so many times in poetry, songs and volumes such as I. I am just one amongst the hundreds of studies of Mecca and Medina, the Well of Zam Zam, Mina and its bridge. What is it that fuels this timeless desire, as though we are all part of a cyclical and orbital motion, repeating the same things time and again, as though we had forgotten that these things or rituals have already been dissected, recorded, passed on generation to generation?

My writer General Ibrahim Refaat Basha focused on the people and their faces. The pilgrims on the journey to Mecca from Cairo. The cities, the places, forgotten names and reiterated faces. Faces that shout out, ‘I was here, I existed on this earth!’ Their time has past, but together they still exist as holograms to a past, a window to another era that calls out in warning from the folds of my pages.

This work transcends the objects. Ultimately, what I’m working with isn’t only the artefacts themselves, but the stories attached to them. For me, each tale is the manifestation of the object, and each object is a tangible materialisation of an underlying narrative. The work finds its equilibrium somewhere between the stories and chronology they’re chaptered into, the objects becoming knots or points along the timeline, woven into stories as part of the language of this artwork. Each story draws out a tale that intends to trigger imagination and memory, mixing fact with fiction, with the ultimate aim of straddling, conflating and confusing fixed notions of history to open up the unofficial histories that shape the character of place and memory.
Ahmed Mater
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